Preface Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:01 AM
Bosnia takes its name from the Bosna River; Herzegovina from the
herceg (duke) who ruled the southern portion of the region until the
15th-century Turkish conquest.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a crossroads country. Sandwiched
between Croatia and Serbia, it has been a zone of contention since
Occident and Orient first met. Passing back and forth between
Christian, Muslim, and Orthodox powers, its people seemed to have
become accustomed to their multicultural milieu. Historically,
Bosnians were tolerant, their land peopled with practitioners of
Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, and a host of
other religions and ideologies. Their art and architecture reflected
This brotherly acceptance ground to a halt in 1992, however, when
Bosnian Serb über-nationalists shattered the country’s social
harmony with the help of the federal army and officials in Belgrade.
The resulting three-way civil war pitted Muslim Slavs, Orthodox
Serbs, and Catholic Croat — all formerly neighbors — against one
another. It devastated the country’s infrastructure, left refugees
numbering in the millions, and introduced the phrase “ethnic
cleansing” into modern parlance.
In the postwar period, memories of the atrocities committed by
all sides remain fresh, and the spirit of tolerance the country once
enjoyed has gone the way of the many mosques, synagogues, and other
symbols of divergent faiths that were torched and shelled during the
In each part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, churches and mosques are
being rebuilt, but this phenomenon has more to do with nationalism
than religion, since most people are fairly secular. Ironically,
Serbs, Croats, and Bosnian Muslims are all South Slavs of the same
ethnic stock. Physically, they are indistinguishable.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s current leadership structure, ratified
by the Dayton Accord, leaves it among the world’s most complicated
democracies. Known as the Chairman of the Presidency, the country’s
current chief of state, a Muslim, shares the office with 2
co-presidents — Croat and a Serb — each having been elected to
office by their respective peoples.
Though the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina ended with the
signing of the Dayton Peace Accords in November 1995, some of the
rancor lingers. Bosnian Serbs have dropped their demands for
secession, but bickering persists between Muslims and Serbs.
Travelers are beginning to return to Bosnia and Herzegovina, but
it will be many years before the country again boasts a significant
tourist draw. Bosnian people are incredibly friendly toward
visitors, but when conversation turns to politics, your best
strategy is to listen.
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:03 AM
Bosnia and Herzegovina is located on the Balkan Peninsula, and is
bordered by Croatia on the west and north, and the Federal Republic
of Yugoslavia on the east. It is almost entirely landlocked, except
for a narrow, undeveloped outlet to the Adriatic along the Neretva
River, which gives Bosnia and Herzegovina 12.4 miles of Adriatic
coastline. The size of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 19,781-sq. mi.
(total), is slightly larger than the State of Tennessee. The land
boundaries are 850.8 miles long. Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of
two land regions: Bosnia, the northern part, is mountainous, and
covered with thick forests; Herzegovina, the southern part, is
composed largely of rocky hills and flat farmland. Major rivers in
Bosnia include the Bosna, Drina, Neretva, Vrbas and Sava.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has scenic, snowy winters, and a rainy
season in the early summer. Summers are warm in the mountain
valleys, but cool at higher elevations. The far northern part of the
country has somewhat colder winters and warmer summers. The average
January temperature in Sarajevo is 30°F. The average July
temperature is 66°F.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is known for winter sports. Its excellent
ski slopes became especially popular after the 1984 Winter Olympics
were held in Sarajevo. In warmer weather, it is popular to fish and
raft in the rivers and hike in the mountains. Since the 1992–95 war,
some of these places have become inaccessible because of land mines
or security concerns. Sarajevo is known for its juxtaposition of
Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and Byzantine architecture, reflecting
its location as a crossroads of civilizations. The country enjoys
proximity to the beautiful Adriatic coast and its islands, all of
which are now part of Croatia.
Population Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:04 AM
Bosnia and Herzegovina became part of a Roman province in about
11 B.C. Slavs settled in the region in the late 6th and 7th
centuries, mingling with the indigenous population. Bosnia existed
as an independent kingdom from the 1100s to the 1400s, but local
nobles, called bans, were able to act independently much of time.
Hum (now Herzegovina) was under Serbian or Hungarian rule from 1100s
until 1326. It was autonomous from 1326 to 1448, when its local
ruler declared his independence and adopted the title herzeg, which
The Ottoman Turks gained control of most of Bosnia in 1463, and
seized Herzegovina in the 1480s. In the centuries after the
invasion, a large number of Slavs converted to Islam. Significant
numbers of Catholics converted to the Orthodox Church, which was
more favored by the Turks. Bosnia and Herzegovina remained provinces
of the Ottoman Empire until the 1878 Congress of Berlin gave
temporary control of the region to Austria- Hungary. In 1908,
Austria-Hungary formally annexed the region.
In June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist from Bosnia,
assassinated Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and his
wife in Sarajevo, precipitating the outbreak of World War I.
Following World War I, Bosnia and Herzegovina was awarded to
Serbia by the Treaty of Versailles, and became part of the Kingdom
of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. The kingdom was renamed Yugoslavia
in 1929. During World War II (1939–1945), Germany and Italy occupied
Yugoslavia. Croatia briefly became an independent state aligned with
Germany, and exercised general control over Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Most of Sarajevo’s Jewish community, formerly the second largest
ethnic group in the city, perished in concentration camps. After the
war, a Communist government organized Yugoslavia as a Federal State.
Bosnia and Herzegovina became one of the six republics of
Yugoslavia, as did Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and
Ethnic divisions based on religion have been a basis for conflict
throughout the 20th century. In the late 1980s, relations between
the groups steadily worsened, especially between Serbs and
In 1990, the Communist Party lost its monopoly on power in
Yugoslavia. That year Bosnia and Herzegovina held free elections for
the first time. Ethnic-oriented parties won a majority of the seats
in the legislature and Alija Izetbegovic, a Muslim, was elected
president of the Republic. In June 1991, Yugoslavia began to
dissolve after both Croatia and Slovenia declared their
independence, and conflict broke out in several other regions of
former Yugoslavia. In February and March 1992, a referendum on
independence — a direct vote of the people — was held in Bosnia and
Herzegovina. Most Serbs boycotted the referendum, but a majority of
the voting population, including 95% of the Republic’s Croatian and
Muslim voters, supported independence.
A majority of Serbs living in Bosnia opposed the declaration of
independence, and spurred on by propaganda and paramilitary
assistance from Serbia, subsequently initiated military action
against non-Serbs. About two-thirds of the Bosnian Republic fell
under the control of Serbian forces within 2 months.
In October 1992, the United States and other U.N. members began
reporting incidents of human rights abuses in Bosnia. Vicious
fighting, shifting alliances, widespread atrocities, and “ethnic
cleansing” resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties and
millions of refugees and displaced persons.
After three and a half years of war, the Dayton Agreement, signed
in November 1995, ended the fighting and established an independent
BiH consisting of two entities, the Federation of BiH and the
Serbian Republic (Republika Srpska).
Public Institutions Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:05 AM
The Dayton Agreement, which ended the war in Bosnia in 1995,
created a new constitutional framework for the country. The state is
led by a three-person presidency, representing and elected by each
of the three major ethnic groups. There is also a Council of
Ministers, consisting of two Co-Chairmen and a Deputy Chairman and
ministers of three state-level ministries: Foreign Affairs, Foreign
Trade and Economic Relations, and Civil Affairs and Communication.
Laws are passed by a bicameral legislature.
The state of Bosnia and Herzegovina is divided into two entities,
the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Serbian Republic (Republika
Srpska). The two entity governments are responsible for most
government functions and services, including defense, but not
foreign affairs. Both entities are governed under parliamentary
systems headed by prime ministers, with executive powers assigned to
a president and vice-president. The Federation is further divided
into ten cantons.
International Community. The international community has assumed
special responsibilities for the maintenance of peace and security
in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the Dayton Agreement. Overall
supervision is provided by the Peace Implementation Council (PIC),
which appoints a High Representative to implement both the Dayton
Agreement and PIC decisions. The High Representative has the power
to recommend and, if necessary, impose laws, and to dismiss public
officials in certain circumstances. The OSCE currently supervises
the electoral process, and the UN provides an advisory International
Police Task Force (IPTF) and other assistance groups. A number of
other European and international organizations exercise specific
functions and provide various forms of assistance. The multinational
Stabilization Force (SFOR), responsible to NATO and consisting of
approximately 20,000 troops in 2000, monitors the entire military
forces and ensures peace and stability throughout the country.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:06 AM
The National Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina was founded on May
22, 1945. The library was housed in the former City Hall building
located in the “Old Town” section of Sarajevo. During its 47-year
existence, the National Library became a powerful educational
institution that provided essential support to the educational
process in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thousands of students visited the
library and used its vast resources.
On August 25, 1992, the National Library building was totally
destroyed by artillery and resultant fires. More than 600,000
monographs, 700 valuable collections and Bosnian periodicals were
burned as a consequence of the shelling.
The current Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina ceded all
buildings in the Tito military complex to the University of Sarajevo
which, in turn, authorized one of these buildings to be used as the
National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bosnian artists work in many different styles and are usually not
very politically active. A number of artists left Bosnia and
Herzegovina during the war, but many have returned or visit fairly
frequently. Two of them are internationally recognized printmakers
and painters — Safet Zec and Mersad Berber. Afan Ramic, Ljubo Lah,
Mehmed Zaimovic, Seid Hasanefendic, Salem Obralic, Perica Vidic are
known painters from Bosnia. Bosnia’s famous sculptors are Bosko
Kucanski, Zdenko Grgic, Mustafa Skopljak, and Enes Sivac. Dzevad
Hozo, Mirsad Konstantinovic and Marina Finci are recognized Bosnian
printmakers. There are numerous small galleries; two of the largest
ones are the State National Gallery and City Gallery Collegium
One of the largest museums in Sarajevo is the Regional Museum of
Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is one of the oldest cultural and
scientific institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Native scholars
and public figures, who at that time formed a modest and small
Museum Society, founded the museum in 1884. With the support of the
government, the museum was proclaimed the State Museum of Bosnia and
Herzegovina in 1888. From the beginning, it functioned as a central
institution in the fields of scientific research, culture, education
and publishing. During the past 100 years the museum has grown into
a significant cultural arid scientific institution with three main
branches: Archeology, Ethnology and Natural History. It also has a
Botanical Garden and special Scientific Library. Since 1913 the
museum has been housed in the uniquely constructed pavilions which
it occupies today. This museum was fairly extensively damaged during
the war, but is now oven to the public.
There are three festivals held every year in Sarajevo — the
Summer Film Festival, the International Theater Festival MESS, and
the Sarajevo Winter Festival. There is also Bascarsija nights in
July which features international and local performers. The Film
Festival takes place in September during which one can see movies
from around the world. The Theater Festival is held in October, when
theater ensembles and groups from different continents perform. The
Sarajevo Winter Festival starts every year on the anniversary of the
1984 Winter Olympics. Programs for the Winter Festival vary from
musical shows, drama, and ballet to art exhibitions.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:07 AM
Bosnia and Herzegovina is rich in natural resources. It has vast
forests and abundant sources of coal and hydroelectric power. Before
the war, Bosnia produced electrical appliances, textiles, aluminum,
and refined petroleum products. Common agricultural crops include
apples, figs, oranges, tomatoes, cabbage, peppers, cherries, grapes,
peaches, pears, plums, potatoes, soybeans, tobacco, walnuts and
Per capita income in Bosnia and Herzegovina is just over half its
pre-war level. The international community has invested heavily to
rebuild the country’s damaged infrastructure and to assist in
economic development. This investment has resulted in some economic
growth and improvements to the transportation, telecommunications,
and energy sectors. The international community is working with
Bosnian authorities to enact free-market reforms that will make the
country more attractive to foreign investment. Bosnia’s chief
trading partners are Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, and Italy.
Automobiles Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:07 AM
Personal automobiles are now permitted at Post. However, local
law prohibits the import of any vehicle older than seven years. It
is advisable to bring small European or 4-wheel-drive vehicles.
Winters are long and road conditions throughout the country are
poor. Sarajevo is a very hilly city with extremely narrow streets
and almost no parking on the street. The lack of parking results in
frequent double-parking and parking on the sidewalks. Most houses
and apartments do not have garages.
Nissan, Opel, Audi and VW have representatives in Sarajevo, and
the cars can be purchased and/or service locally. Post policy limits
the use of privately owned vehicles (POVs) to Sarajevo and a few
outside routes. Two-vehicle convoys are necessary for tray in
Car theft is a problem, so you should buy security devices or
install an alarm system before bringing a car to post.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:08 AM
Public transportation is available but is often crowded. Tram and
bus tickets can be purchased either from the driver or at certain
kiosks. Trams and buses a very inexpensive. Taxis are readily
available able and relatively cheap.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:09 AM
Sarajevo Airport is located ten kilometers from the Embassy.
International air carriers have daily flights from Sarajevo Airport.
Only state-owned Air Bosna and Croatia Airlines keep their planes at
the airport overnight. There are currently flights into Sarajevo
from Zagreb, Vienna, Zurich, Munich, Budapest, Istanbul, Dusseldorf,
and Ljubljana. International flights operate daily out of Mostar and
Banja Luka. During winter months, heavy fog and snowfall can limit
airport operations. This can result in flights being cancelled,
making winter travel somewhat unreliable and unpredictable. Several
bus companies provide service to Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, and
Germany. The only passenger rail service in Bosnia operates between
Sarajevo and Mostar, and between Sarajevo and Zagreb.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:10 AM
Local telephone service is fairly reliable. International direct
dial (IDD) capability is available both from the Embassy and
residences. Long distance calls to the U.S. are expensive, so many
people use AT&T or Sprint calling cards which results in some saving
on calls to the U.S. Approximate prices for long distance calls are
as follows: $1.00 per minute — Italy, Hungary, Germany, Switzerland,
Sweden, U.S., Great Britain, Vatican, Yugoslavia, Liechtenstein and
San Marino; Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania,
Slovenia; $1.26 per minute — Andorra, Czech Republic, Denmark,
France, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Slovakia,
Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus; $1.47 per minute Ireland, Algier,
Alaska, Belgium, Finland, Canada, Iceland, Portugal, Russia, Spain,
All government-rented housing units have telephone service
available at the occupant’s expense. E-mail and Internet access can
be obtained locally. There are several companies that offer this
service; prices and service vary but they are generally more
expensive than comparative services in the U.S.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 8/6/2003 10:20 AM
The State Department pouch is the primary means for receiving
mail. There are outgoing pouches once a week and incoming pouches
twice a week. Packages may be received through the pouch, but there
is no outgoing package mail by pouch. Incoming pouch mail may take
between 3 and 4 weeks; transit times may be even longer in winter
months as the airport may close because of inclement weather. Items
for the unclassified pouch can be delivered to the mailroom Monday
through Friday from 8:00 to 5:00. All personal mail should be
addressed to the following Pouch Address:
Name 7130 Sarajevo Place Dulles, VA 20189
Please do not put any office markings in the address.
USAID contract personnel are not authorized to receive
merchandise, magazines and newspapers through the pouch.
International airmail should be addressed as follows:
Name/Office or Agency American Embassy Alipasina 43 71000
Sarajevo Bosnia and Herzegovina
Radio and TV Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:11 AM
Bosnia and Herzegovina has a large number of media outlets. Their
main characteristics, with exceptions, continue to be limited
audience mainly based on ethnic background, difficult financial and
material position, and inability to make profit in the market.
Currently, there are 152 radio stations and 47 television
stations licensed to operate in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The new
Communications Regulatory Agency (CRA) has had a positive effect on
broadcast media, substantially reducing inflammatory reporting and
hate language throughout the country. Major broadcasting networks
include BH TV 1, the first countrywide public broadcaster; and two
entity TV stations: Federation TV and RTRS (Television of Republika
Srpska). Private TV stations such as TV Hayat in Sarajevo and ATV in
Banja Luka (both members of Mreza plus) are popular in their
There are no English-language TV stations in BiH. However, some
popular American series and movies are carried in English with
Bosnian subtitles. SFOR radio programming, including some American
broadcasts, can be heard in Sarajevo and Tuzla with special
Satellite television is available in Sarajevo. It is recommended
that new members of the mission bring a multi-system television set
in their household effects.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
8/6/2003 10:21 AM
There is also a large number of print media in BiH. Over 130
print media are registered in the Federation and over 60 in the
Republika Srpska (RS). However, only a limited number has
significant circulation and influence. Major dailies are: Dnevni
Avaz, Oslobodjenje (Sarajevo), Nezavisne Novine, Glas Srpski (Banja
Luka) and Dhevni List (Mostar).
Major news agencies are: FENA, SRNA and ONASA.
Health and Medicine Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:12 AM
Prior to the war of 1992–1995, the hospitals in Sarajevo were
among the leading educational, diagnostic and therapeutic
institutions of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Eastern Europe as well.
During the war, the city’s hospitals were targeted and suffered
major destruction. Despite the chaos, lack of electricity, gas,
water, materials and medicines, the medical personnel cared for and
operated on thousands of wounded people.
Seven years after the war, hospitals continue to rebuild and
reconstruct. Support from the World Health Organization (WHO), the
international community and the domestic government has enabled
Sarajevo hospitals to repair a large part of the damage. Some
physicians have returned to Sarajevo and have bought with them
outside training and experience. Breaking out of the Tito-era model
of public health, some physicians are working in private practices.
There are still serious challenges to implementing a real health
care system with adequate infrastructure, but in general, health
care in Sarajevo is improving.
SFOR/NATO has excellent quality military medical resources
throughout Bosnia. In Sarajevo the German Army supports a Role 3
field hospital offering a broad range of services and medical
specialties. The U.S. Army has a similar facility near the town of
Tuzla, some two hours from Sarajevo. These facilities are the first
choice for care in case of serious emergencies such as sudden acute
illness or trauma.
Embassy Sarajevo has a Health Unit staffed by a Foreign Service
Health Provider. Post is additionally supported by Regional Medical
Officers located in Belgrade, London, and Budapest. The Regional
Psychiatrist is in Vienna. London is the medical evacuation center.
The Health Unit provides three basic services: primary care,
health promotion/disease prevention, and emergency response. The
Foreign Service Health Provider treats minor illnesses; manages
stable chronic illnesses; provides referral to other physician
specialists as needed; immunizations of children and adults; teaches
first aid and CPR; offers patient education; and assesses local
medical resources capabilities.
Common health problems encountered in Sarajevo include upper
respiratory illnesses due to poor air quality and the prevalence of
allergens like mold and pollen. Smoking is extremely common. There
are no smoke-free restaurants or public areas outside the Embassy.
Secondhand smoke exacerbates respiratory problems. Tuberculosis has
been on the rise with the influx of refugees and the deterioration
of public health services. Motor vehicle accidents are always a
concern as the roads are poorly maintained and drivers are
Bring an adequate supply of medications especially inhalers,
second generation antihistamines, etc. Some medications are
available locally and are inexpensive. Others simply are impossible
to purchase on the local economy. Post’s Foreign Service Health
Provider can write prescriptions and mail or fax them to the U.S.,
but there are significant delays in receiving them through the
There are lots of ways to stay healthy in Sarajevo. Post has a
good, albeit small gym. Folks bike, hike, and swim to stay in shape.
The Health Unit actively supports weight loss, exercise and smoking
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 12/2/2003
The post has made strong efforts to enhance employment
opportunities for dependents. Those interested in employment are
encouraged to contact the Department of State, EUR/EX/PER, and
express their desire to be employed through the Family Employment
Program. Also, interested dependents should write to the Human
Resources officer prior to arrival, providing as much information as
possible on skills and previous experience.
Applicants for positions with the Mission are selected on the
basis of education, experience, and suitability. They must also be
American citizens at the time of their appointment.
The Family Employment Program is administered by the Department
in Washington, D.C. and encompasses a number of targeted jobs for
which the Department will provide training before arrival at post.
In order to qualify for this program, application must be made to
the Department. Other employment opportunities may be available in
the private sector such as teaching English, although salaries may
be quite low. Limited employment opportunities are available with
international organizations in the city.
Ability to speak the local language is helpful when seeking
American Embassy - Sarajevo
Post City Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:14 AM
Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is at the
southeastern end of the Sarajevo-Zenica Valley and lies in the
Dinaric Mountains not far from the origin of the Bosnia River.
The city is famous for its carpet weavers and silversmiths, and
for its many mosques. Turks, who ruled the city from the mid-1400s
to 1878, built the mosques. Sarajevo is also famous for the site of
the assassination of Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand, which led
to World War I. In 1992 Sarajevo was besieged and bombarded by the
Serbian military during the ethnic conflicts that followed the
breakup of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Since the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, Sarajevo has begun
to regain its former character. There is, however, an enormous
amount of war damage evident, although some rebuilding is under way.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:14 AM
The Embassy, at Alipasina 43, is situated in the center of
Sarajevo. Currently there are eleven different government agencies
represented at Post. OPA, USAID, and the General Services Office are
located in an office building just a ten-minute drive from the
All Agencies can be reached through the Embassy switchboard.
Country and city codes are (387–33) 445–700 or 659–969. Embassy
hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Embassy
duty officer may be contacted through the Marine Security Guard at
all times. Detailed security briefings are held weekly.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:14 AM
Every effort is made to move newcomers directly into their
permanent quarters. However, during the summer when personnel
turnover is heavy, this is not always possible. If permanent housing
is not ready, newcomers are housed in an American-furnished
temporary duty apartment, or are booked into a local hotel.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:15 AM
All housing is Embassy-leased and fully furnished. Post provides
standard furniture and major appliances, including a refrigerator, a
stove, space heaters, washer, dryer, microwave, and split unit A/C.
Most appliances are European-sized, as American appliances generally
do not fit in Sarajevo kitchens and bathrooms. Employees should plan
to bring other household equipment, including small appliances such
as a toaster and coffeemaker. Electrical current in Sarajevo is 220v
and outlets are standard European two-pin.
Some 220v appliances, such as irons, toasters, coffee makers and
televisions, can be purchased both at the PX and on the local
market. Arriving personnel should bring some household items in your
airfreight, such as bed linens, blankets, dishes, silver, glassware,
kitchenware, shower curtains and electrical appliances. The Embassy
provides a Welcome Kit, which includes blankets, pillows, bed
linens, iron, dishes and kitchenware, on loan to newcomers until
their effects arrive. When planning shipments, employees should bear
in mind that quarters are small and storage space is very limited.
Post cannot provide warehouse space for employees’ personal effects,
and there are no commercial warehouse facilities.
Currently, Embassy personnel are housed in two- or three-bedroom
apartments or houses. Very few houses have yards or garages. Houses
and apartments generally have no built-in closets; clothing is
usually stored in freestanding wardrobes, which are a standard
component of Embassy-issued furniture. Homes have central heating.
Food Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:16 AM
The selection of goods in the city’s larger stores is varied. The
Embassy does not have a commissary in Sarajevo, although post
personnel have access to several military PXs located about a
half-hour’s drive from the Embassy. The U.S. PX carries American
goods designed for military personnel, primarily convenience foods,
electronics, and paper products. A PX-operated truck delivers
American products to the Embassy once a week.
Fresh fruit and vegetables as well as meat and poultry are
available in local markets. Most of the fresh food items are
organic, but their variety may be limited in winter and early
spring. In addition to Sarajevo’s open markets, there are several
large supermarkets that sell a wide variety of European products
along with fresh food items. There are many small shops that are
well stocked with items including cleaning supplies, canned and
frozen goods, pasta, eggs, yellow and white cheeses and other dairy
products. Fresh milk is not pasteurized, but long-life milk is
widely available. Bread is excellent, inexpensive and readily
Some baking supplies such as evaporated canned milk, food
coloring, and vanilla extract are hard to find on the local market.
Bacon and pork is scarce, but it can be found. Special dietary foods
such as low-fat, low-sugar, or low-salt items are available on a
limited basis at larger stores. This can be problematic for
employees with health problems such as high blood pressure. If these
items are important to you, it may be advisable to ship them to
post. Certain spices and food items associated with ethnic cuisine
are not available.
Clothing Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:16 AM
Dress in Sarajevo is similar to that in Washington, D.C. Cold
weather clothing is an absolute necessity. Also, the spring season
can be raw and rainy. Rain apparel, warm winter boots, and sturdy
walking shoes are essential. The latter are important for Sarajevo’s
rough and often uneven streets. Thin-soled shoes are not
recommended, as streets are often in poor condition. Winter weather
in Sarajevo is cold and alternately rainy and snowy. Summer can be
quite hot. Fall begins early; October can be quite cool. A
well-insulated, waterproof jacket and waterproof boots are mandatory
for winter. Pantsuits for women are useful in winter months.
Lightweight, wash-and-wear garments are preferable for summer. Men
should bring an adequate number of suits for meetings as well as
representational events; women should bring “cocktail-style” dresses
or suits for the same occasions. Suits are worn regularly in the
Embassy. Although good quality clothing and footwear is available in
Sarajevo, prices are generally higher than those in the U.S.
Supplies and Services Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:17 AM
Most European brands of toiletries and household supplies are
available, although American brands are not readily found in
Sarajevo’s stores. For this reason, favorite brands of shampoo,
toothpaste, vitamins and drugstore items should be included in
household effects shipments. There are a number of optical shops
that offer eye exams and fashionable glasses at fair prices. Fabrics
are available but expensive. Craft supplies (knitting wool, patterns
and needles, crochet materials, needlepoint yarns, paints, brushes,
easels, sewing fabrics, threads, etc.) are sometimes available but
often difficult to find. You should bring whatever items or supplies
are needed for outside activities and hobbies.
Basic Services Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:17 AM
There are many acceptable and reasonable beauty shops that give
both men’s and women’s haircuts as well as other services such as
skin care, body care and nail care at reasonable prices. Some hair
products are available locally, but employees are advised to bring a
supply of their favorite brands. Photo developing facilities and
print shops are available. Dry cleaning and tailoring shops are
conveniently located. Car repair shops and car washes are abundant
Computer equipment can be damaged due to power outages, so if you
bring your own PC, include voltage or power surge regulators. Most
computer shops have a stock of diskettes and ribbons, and computer
repair facilities are available.
Domestic Help Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:18 AM
Mission members find it easy to hire part-time domestic help to
assist with housekeeping, cooking and gardening, although it is
difficult to find domestic employees who are able to speak English
well. The Community Liaison Office (CLO) has a file of references on
domestic help. In order to protect potential employers and their
neighbors, the Security Office will assist in obtaining routine
police checks of all prospective domestic staff members.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:18 AM
Muslim, Christian, and Jewish religions are represented in Bosnia
and Herzegovina. Christian churches include Catholic, Orthodox, and
Seventh-day Adventists. At SFOR bases, Protestant, Catholic, and
Mormon religious services are offered in English.
Education Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:19 AM
QSI International School of Sarajevo, a private non-profit
institution, was opened in September 1997. The school is accredited
by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Classes
are conducted in English. QSI has 76 students from pre-school to the
eighth grade. The school’s primary purpose is to meet the
educational needs of children in Sarajevo with a view toward
continuing their education in their home countries with minimal
adjustment. In addition to its scholastic goals, the school provides
its students with a historical perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina
and the region. The curriculum includes English (reading, grammar,
composition and spelling), mathematics, cultural studies (history,
geography, economics, etc.), science, computer literacy, art, music
and physical education as a part of the regular program. The school
is located at Donji Hotonj St. 8, Vogosca, telephone (387–33)
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:19 AM
Sarajevo has a variety of recreational facilities. Popular sports
include: skiing, ice hockey, ice skating, handball, basketball,
tennis, and soccer. A couple of indoor pools have recently opened
with monthly/yearly memberships at fair prices. Sarajevo also has a
four-hole golf course, which is expanding. The city has many fitness
centers that offer tae-bo, aerobics, yoga and kick-boxing. There are
several private tennis clubs that offer sheltered courts during
winter months. Fishing is also popular since Bosnia has many
beautiful rivers; fishing licenses are required.
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:20 AM
Several companies offer organized tours of Sarajevo. Guiding
companies organize hiking and rafting trips that afford outdoor
adventurers opportunities to see Bosnia’s beautiful rivers and
Just minutes from Sarajevo, one can stroll down a tree-lined path
and picnic in the park at the source of the Bosna River, where the
current rushes out of solid rock at the foot of a mountain.
Horse-drawn carriages can be hired for $5 to $10.
In winter, skiing is Bosnia’s favorite sport. Although, the
tourist facilities built during the 1984 Winter Olympics are in
disarray, there is a brand new hotel located on Bjelasnica Mountain,
just a 45-minute drive from the city. An hour from Sarajevo is a
more developed ski area called Jahorina Mountain, which has several
new small hotels as well as some cozy restaurants. Skiing equipment
rental is possible; however, the equipment is not up to U.S.
During the summer months most people visit the Croatian
coast,4-hour drive from Sarajevo. On the way to the coast, travelers
can visit Mostar’s old town, which was built when the Ottoman Empire
extended into the region.
The town of Blagaj is the site of an old Dervish monastery,
established in 1466 at the source of the Buna River, which flows out
from beneath a magnificent cliff. One of the largest springs in
Europe, the Buna breaks out into the surface carrying 43,000 liters
of water per second, after flowing underground for over 19
Located in Bosnia’s wine-producing mountains, a three-hour drive
from Sarajevo, the small village of Medjugorje became a destination
for pilgrims in 1981 when six children testified that the Virgin
Mary had revealed herself to them. Since then, Medjugorje has been
visited by millions of people from all over the world.
Entertainment Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:21 AM
There are many good restaurants as well as numerous pizzerias and
cafés in Sarajevo. Strolling and stopping into a café for coffee is
a favorite Bosnian pastime and part of the culture. Concerts and
plays take place in Sarajevo’s theaters, particularly during the
summer months. Exhibitions are regularly held in state and city
galleries. Although the films that are shown in the city’s several
theaters are usually over six months old, they are shown in their
original languages with subtitles in Bosnian. The city has several
bookstores that sell some English-language literature, but most of
post’s avid readers order their books on-line. Sarajevo has a number
of cafés and clubs that offer different types of music and
entertainment, including live jazz.
Social Activities Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:21 AM
The Community Liaison Officer publishes a weekly newsletter
informing Embassy members of the many activities taking place in
town. The CLO organizes social and recreational events (such as
movie nights, cookouts, and happy hours) as well as occasional trips
to local sites of interest. There is an International Women’s Club
in Sarajevo, which organizes bridge lessons, art classes, walking
groups and an annual international bazaar. A small exercise facility
is also available to all Mission members as are aerobics and yoga
classes in our multi-purpose room. For the most part, official
entertaining takes the form of dinners, cocktail parties, and
luncheons. Sarajevo’s chapter of the Hash House Harriers draws
runners and walkers to its weekly outings from all segments of the
city’s international community.
Official Functions Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:22 AM
Officers may be asked to attend official functions (e.g. National
Day events at other Missions, Bosnian and diplomatic receptions,
luncheons, and dinners). Dress is similar to that in the Washington,
D.C. area. (dark suits for men and dresses or suits for women). Most
Mission personnel assist in hosting the official Fourth of July
reception. Business cards are used and can be printed locally in
English and Bosnian. The usual rules of social conduct and etiquette
in the United States are also customary in Bosnia.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 8/6/2003 10:24 AM
The Post should be informed of the employee’s approximate date of
arrival four to six weeks in advance. The best way to travel to
Sarajevo is by air. The major air carriers servicing Sarajevo are
Austrian Air, Swiss Air, Croatian Air, and Lufthansa.
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:23 AM
Personnel may import the following duty free: household effects (HHE),
POV (local law prohibits the import of vehicles older than seven
years), food stuffs, beverages, tobacco products, and other items
for personal use during their tour of duty. All personal shipments
for diplomatic personnel must be cleared through customs. Customs
inspectors will normally clear shipments upon arrival, after which
the GSO section submits a declaration to Bosnian Customs. If the
shipments are sent to Zagreb by aircraft, they can be tracked more
effectively if you know the airway bill number. The State Department
Transportation Office can provide this information a few days after
your airfreight is packed out.
The Embassy has limited storage facilities, so shipments should
not arrive prior to your arrival at post. An employee’s HHE are held
in ELSO Antwerp until the employee has arrived and is occupying
permanent quarters. Since you may have to stay in temporary quarters
after your arrival, pack airfreight accordingly.
The Embassy can obtain advance customs clearance for your HHE,
UAB, and POV Please be sure to send the customs and shipping section
a copy of the packer’s inventory list as soon as you arrive at post.
GSO will help with the necessary export approvals for all items,
but the process must be started several months before you intend to
leave. Routine personal belongings and HHE for all personnel can be
exported duty free.
Passage Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:23 AM
Entering Bosnia and Herzegovina involves a minimum of formalities
for the holders of diplomatic passports. All incoming employees will
be met by them sponsor at the Sarajevo Airport. No visas are
Pets Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:23 AM
There are no prohibitions on bringing pets to post and into
Bosnia Personnel bringing pets to Post should make arrangements
prior to arrival, since few hotels will accept pets. In theory, it
is necessary to obtain Bosnian government approval to import pets,
but in practice this has never been necessary. However, customary
vaccinations and health certificates are required.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:24 AM
Firearms and ammunition are not permitted at post.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
12/2/2003 9:25 AM
Sarajevo is basically a cash economy, although credit cards are
accepted at some stores and restaurants. There are also a few
Automatic Teller Machines in the city. The currency is the
Convertible Mark (KM), which is tied to the value of the Euro.
Visitors may wish to change a substantial portion of their advance
into Euros before coming to post.
All permanently assigned American employees of the USG
(direct-hire and PSC) may obtain accommodation exchanges from the
Embassy Cashier during posted cashier hours. Visitors with official
travel orders may exchange U.S. dollars in cash or Travelers checks.
The metric system of weights and measurements is used here.
Fabric is bought by the meter, potatoes by the kilo, gasoline by the
liter, and distances are measured in kilometers.
Diplomatic personnel are exempt from taxes. Because shops include
taxes in their prices, post has procedures to assist you in
obtaining tax exemption on items costing over 200KM purchased for
personal use. Diplomats’ personal goods and consumables may enter
Bosnia and Herzegovina exempt from duties and taxes.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 12/2/2003
Diplomatic personnel are exempt from taxes. Because shops include
taxes in their prices, post has procedures to assist you in
obtaining tax exemption on items costing over 20OKM purchased for
personal use and will be explained to you upon arrival. All personal
goods and consumables may enter Bosnia and Herzegovina exempt from
duties and taxes.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 12/2/2003 9:26 AM
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material
published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse
Silber, Laura, and Little Allan. The Death of Yugoslavia.
Malcolm, Noel. The Short History of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bennet, Chris. Yugoslavia’s Bloody Collapse: Causes, Course and
Donia, Robert J. and Fine John V A. Bosnia and Herzegovina: A
Pinson, Mark (ed.). The Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Their
Historical Development from the Middle Ages to the Dissolution of
Andric, Ivo. The Bridge on the Drino.
Andric, Ivo. The Days of the Consuls.
Glenny, Misha. The Fall of Yugoslavia.
Sudetic, Chuck. Blood and Vengeance.
Cohen, Roger. Hearts Grown Brutal.
West, Rebecca. Black Lamb, Gray Falcon.
Local Holidays Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM
NewYear’s Day January 2 Bajram – Kurban February 11 Independence
Day March 1 Easter April 21 Labor Day May 1 and 2 Assumption Day
August 15 All Saint’s Day November 1 Statehood Day November 25
Bajram – Ramadan November 25